Human history basically chronicles the quest for freedom and the attempts to subvert this freedom by the tyranny of the conquering races and people. These conquerors represented themselves as being different and superior to the people whose freedom they sought to curb. Taking away someone’s freedom is like forcing him into slavery. Human slavery has been abolished in every country of the world. However, we remain a slave to many things and often we are not even aware of it. Freedom lies in liberating oneself from all the bondages that pull us down. At the same time, freedom also thrusts certain responsibilities on us. The foremost among these is, ensuring that our freedom does not interfere or obstructs another person’s freedom. There are many more aspects of freedom that evolution has granted every human.
Freedom from being Treated as Unequal
One of the most glaring example and manifestation of the lack of freedom is how the female child or girl is treated in a society. They are forced to comply with the centuries old norms and lead their life in the same way. Many societies do not allow their womenfolk to pursue higher studies or seek professional careers. Surely these societies and culture need to shed their insecurities and become bold enough to give more and complete freedom to the members of their society. Any discrimination on the ground of gender should be eliminated to usher in real freedom. Cultures in middle-east and south Asian countries are deeply affected by such age-old customs and social norms.
Freedom of Making Choices
It might sound strange, but it is true that many cultures and societies do not grant the freedom of making choices. This is true even in deciding such vital issues such as the freedom to choose one’s life partner. This is also true in case of males. They cannot wander away from the age-old limits set by their conservative and orthodox societies. Even in making their career choices, they are forced to adopt the traditional ways of occupation. If a person has the talent to pursue creative passions, then he will be a misfit in being forced to earn his livelihood by adopting other means. This not only kills his passions but deprives the society in general, from benefitting from the outcome of his passionate creative pursuits. To illustrate this with an example, the legendary cricketer MS Dhoni’s father wanted him to continue his job in the railways, but Dhoni was brave enough not to shackle his talents for the security of a permanent job.
Accepting People as they are without any Prejudice
When we accept people from diverse cultures as fellow human being like us, we free ourselves from the shackles of prejudice created by the exposure to ethnocentrism. The term ethnocentrism refers to the tendency of considering one’s society and culture as better than others. This is due to the familiarity with the culture in which one grows up. However, this also makes people like frog in a well who have a limited experience of the world. Freedom amounts to being open to others and willing to accept others as no less than ourselves.
Freedom is not just about political freedom or physical freedom. Real freedom comes when we free ourselves of the prejudices and the old customs that are detrimental to progress and creating a just society. We are not really free, if we are not courageous enough to remove the shackles of old customary ways that are detrimental to creating a more humanistic society.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah